Using mobile devices for the asset tracking is not new. Companies are utilizing mobile computers for decades to track assets and inventory on site,
whether the assets to track are on the store shelves, in the warehouse, in the field or on the job site. Asset management systems involving mobile computers
investment, and as such are usually not feasible for the small businesses. The recent new development in the asset management field is the
the regular smartphones or tablets with the asset management mobile application installed to play a role of the mobile computers. This new development makes
mobile asset tracking systems affordable
for the businesses of all sizes.
Mobile asset tracking is not a necessity for all companies which need to track assets. In some situations you can do perfectly well by using the desktop computers to keep track of your assets and inventory. There are situations, however where mobile asset tracking is absolutely essential and will significantly increase your business operations efficiency.
Below we describe seven business scenarios where mobile assets and inventory management, in our experience, makes most sense and provides significant benefits. If your business faces any of these scenarios, you will do yourself a big favor by learning more and implementing an asset management system that uses smartphones in place of the mobile computers for the mobile asset tracking.
Mobile Asset And Inventory Tracking Application 1: Managing Inventory Stock In The Field
If you have out-of-office inventory, for example inventory on the job sites, on the client sites, in the service trucks or any other field locations,
it is critically important that your employees could track inventory use, restocking and relocation on-site. If you do not give your employees an opportunity
to record inventory
transactions in the field as they happen, there is a good chance that used or received inventory will never be accounted for. It is very unlikely that employees
an office each time they use or relocate inventory. This situation makes any desktop inventory management software obsolete.
Whether you have it or not, you won't have an accurate inventory count and transaction history trail.
Smartphones, which each employee can easily fit in his / her pocket, are perfect tools for recording inventory transactions in the field. When an employee uses materials or inventory, he just needs to scan a barcode or QR code in the asset tracking mobile application and submit inventory transaction. If an employee runs out of parts or materials on the job site he can easily find inventory stock for the required part on a smartphone. In a connected cloud - mobile asset tracking system all authorized employees have access to the real time inventory stock and locations, on the smartphones and on the office computers.
Field technicians can use their own smartphones for the barcode scanning and mobile assets tracking. Inventory management software that allows you to track assets and spare parts in the field with the mobile devices is very affordable and simple to use. It makes perfect sense to try it out and make sure that your job site inventory is accounted for and under control.
Mobile Asset And Inventory Tracking Application 2: Tracking Loaned Or Borrowed Assets
If your employees borrow company's assets for a job (video equipment, work tools, etc.), or you have assets on the job sites
(e.g. construction sites, oil rigs) and you do not have adequate tools to keep track of the assets location and movements - you have a problem on your hands.
Pretty soon you
lose track of the assets locations. This, in turn, results in the lost or misplaced assets and significant expenses to replace them.
In order to keep track of the mobile assets you need to provide your employees an option to record any changes in the assets stats on the spot - whether they borrow or return an asset, re-locate it, need to send asset to the repair or document asset damage. Smartphone with the asset tracking mobile application is a perfect tool to perform this task.
With a smartphone, an employee can document everything that happens to an asset immediately, and the change becomes available to all authorized asset management system users in real time. Smartphone can be used to scan barcode or QR code on the asset to identify it, enter all required information about the asset transaction, and even take photos of an asset to document its conditions. GPS location of an asset transaction is recorded automatically by a smartphone, which allows you to see assets at a glance on the map.
Mobile Asset And Inventory Tracking Application 3: Mobile Data Access And Collection
If you are installing or servicing equipment at customers' sites, whether residential or commercial, it is imperative that the field technicians could
access information on the equipment they are dealing with on site. Depending on the situation, the required information may include equipment specifications,
installation instructions, drawings, emergency procedures, etc. The ability to access necessary information can prevent costly mistakes during equipment installation,
Taking into account how easy it is to implement a mobile data collection and access system using asset tracking mobile application on a smartphone, there is no reason not to provide your field technicians with this helpful tool. All they will need to do is scan a QR code or barcode on the equipment with the smartphone to get immediate access to the equipment specifications and past service data.
Smartphones can be used to record equipment service and maintenance as well. If field technician is required to fill out a paper form after the job is completed, let him fill a mobile form on his smartphone instead. This will eliminate data misplacement or loss, eliminate the need to retype / re-enter information and will allow you to easily search and locate equipment service records.
Mobile Asset And Inventory Tracking Application 4: Asset Audits
Any company with the significant number of assets needs to conduct asset audits to verify that all assets are in place and accounted for, plus reveal any
missing, damaged or obsolete assets. This task, if done with the paper and pencil, can be complicated enough even if all of your assets are located in a single office.
It can become a nightmare when
your assets are distributed between the multiple field locations, customer sites and employees.
Employees need to go around the office with a printed assets sheet and manually check off assets, making sure that they don't mix up serialized items, such as computers, hard drives, smartphones, etc. After this process is completed, someone will need to manually enter all collected assets count data into the computer. You will need to bring together collected assets data from the different locations to identify misplaced assets. And at the end you still won't have a way to access data on the missing assets from multiple locations / audits and identify a trend.
Now, when you can easily implement a mobile asset audit software at a very affordable cost, there is no reason to continue doing assets audits manually, waste countless employee-hours and still not being able to get an adequate results for your efforts.
By using a smartphone with the asset tracking mobile application company employees can scan in assets in the audit location or in their possession and submit data to the backend cloud assets management software. That's all - no manual entries or re-entries or finding right asset on a printed list. An asset management software compare asset audit data with the assets "on the books" and produce a discrepancies report, identifying missing and misplaced assets. The whole assets audit procedure will take just minutes instead of hours or days, and you will have accurate digital records of all performed asset audits.
Mobile Asset And Inventory Tracking Application 5: Stocktaking And Physical Inventory Counts
Inventory management mobile application helps you perform physical inventory counts in hours rather than days, and get an immediate result.
Taking physical inventory manually requires a lot of effort, employee-hours and money. Often businesses need to shut down operations for one or more days to
do a complete inventory count.
It is hard to tally all inventory line items, possibly located in the different areas of the warehouse, using just paper and pencil and not make a mistake. It is especially true when multiple employees are
involved in the inventory count process.
As a result, in spite of all the effort manual inventory counts tend to be not very accurate. Mistakes are made during counting,
inventory count data recorded with paper and pencil are lost, misplaced or are not entered
to the computer properly.
Comparing inventory stock on the books with the inventory count results is not an easy task in itself - it is hard to immediately identify discrepancies just by looking at 2 inventory stock printouts side-by-side.
Using a physical inventory count software that utilizes asset tracking mobile application with barcode scanning option takes a lot of pain out of the physical inventory count process. Multiple employees can scan inventory in their designated warehouse areas, and submit data to the backend inventory management software for processing. No problems if the same inventory line items are located in the different warehouse areas - inventory count will be correctly summed up.
The possibility of an error is minimal, since there are no manual entries or misidentification of an inventory line item. The scanned inventory batch is displayed on a smartphone screen, so employees can see what was scanned and correct any errors before submitting inventory count data. When all inventory count batches are submitted, inventory management software automatically compares physical inventory count data with the inventory "on the books" and produces a discrepancy report.
You have access to the detailed results of each physical inventory count, as well as inventory trends and statistics.
Mobile Asset And Inventory Tracking Application 6: Inventory Traceability & Quality Control
Many industries (food, medical, etc.) require strict traceability in case of the defects or recalls. Usually such traceability is done by assigning
a lot number, or batch number to the products that were manufactured in the similar conditions. In the case of a problem
the company knows which inventory lot needs to be recalled or
taken out of distribution.
Barcode scanning inventory mobile application can help you achieve traceability in the productive and efficient manner. Shop floor employees use a smartphone with the inventory mobile application to scan a barcode or QR code on a product and record inventory lot details on each production stage. Quality control is done by filling out mobile forms on a smartphone.
Mobile Asset And Inventory Tracking Application 7: Field Equipment Maintenance
When a service technician performs field equipment maintenance he needs to use a special form - and many small businesses are
still using paper forms for this purpose. Paper forms have a lot of limitations - they can be damaged or lost, require re-entry to the computer
and are not easily searchable.
Previously, however, small businesses did not have much of a choice - computerized equipment maintenance systems utilizing mobile computers
are quite expensive and are not very feasible.
Now, the equipment maintenance forms can be completed in the mobile forms application and submitted to the asset management cloud software in real time. Mobile forms applications for the smartphone coupled with the backend asset management cloud software are affordable for the small businesses, so there is no reason to stick to the paper forms for the field equipment maintenance.
By using a smartphone and a mobile forms application, a field technician can:
- identify equipment by scanning a QR code or barcode with a smartphone
- access equipment maintenance form valid for the scanned equipment
- fill out an equipment maintenance form on a smartphone, attach images and collect a signature
- submit a completed equpment maintenance form to the asset management software
- digital records of the equipment maintenance are securely stored in the cloud and are accessible on demand, on the mobile devices in the field and computers in the office
As a result, you have accurate digital equipment maintenance records, that can be searched by multiple parameters to easily find the required information.